The biggest thing that is missing from a work flow of "Just blast it all away from the command line" is that of conscious control. And deleting your raw files to save space might leave you missing the forest for the trees...
- Are you actually deleting what you think you are deleting?
- Are you actually saving the files you really want to keep anyway?
First step to dealing with file-pack-rat-syndrome is to begin dealing with it before it happens on new files:
- Cull early, cull often.
- Use a modern image library management system, such as lightroom, and rate, flag, and keyword images early on. From here you can develop a workflow scheme that helps you clearly decide which raw files you wish to keep.
- Flag images with little to no value early on for deletion. [Ideally before you even bother keywording them.] If you have ten near duplicates of the same image with "slightly different lighting", then do you really want all ten of them?
Pick the best, trash the rest.
The important thing to remember is that images that you have no idea exist, or an easy way to find if you want them, have little to no value: Either ensure you establish a value in their storage. Keywording is your friend.
In my mind culling and maintaining a collection is an ongoing process. As new images are added, or skills, methods, or tastes change, then older images may become obsolete. Culling those of "Poor technical merit" is easy to do at time of ingest, and some artistic culling is also good to do at the time. But returning to the images for further review weeks, months, and years later is worth the effort to avoid an ever ballooning collection.
- If you build your personal collection to the point that you will never revisit 99.9% of the images in your life, then why are you hanging on to them and cluttering your drive? If a photo is not a "Good image" in your mind, or at least a "Good example of your past artistic views", then it is worth asking why is it being carted around as part of your collection?
As you put strong systems in place to keep from rapidly expanding your new images, you can begin addressing your old images in smaller bite sized chunks with confidence.
- Importing a new batch of images from the weekend? Process and cull one of your archive folders while you're at it.
- Have some spare time? Make a cup of tea or coffee, and sit down to run through old data to cull and keyword.
The important thing is to make deletion of files an active thought process, and massage random unsorted images into a usable collection of images, rather than gathering terabytes of meaningless data that holds little chance of ever actually being used at any point in the future.
Sorting and culling doesn't have to be a massively long process with minutes or hours of debating on each and every photo, it is perfectly fine to scroll through a folder from an afternoon of shooting and declare none of them are worth bothering with, but the active review of your collection is what improves it as a collection.
Avoid "Blind deletions" unless you're critically pressed for space, and avoid keeping even just the .jpegs "just because...". [
Blindly deleting all of your raw image data for the sake of storing thousands more .jpeg files that you'll never actually use or care about anyway hasn't actually put you any further ahead in the grand scheme of things.
The road out of file-pack-ratted-ness is not one of merely 'saving space', but one of addressing what the space you're using is actually being used for!